Michigan State Football Recruiting -- Signing Day 2013

Al Messerschmidt

Christmas is here, even if our parents already told us everything we're getting.

The busiest day of the offseason is here: Signing Day 2013.

This might be the only day of the year fax machines are still used, as college football programs officially add new members.

Below are the commitments whose Letters of Intent MSU has received. This will be updated throughout the day as the letters come in. Here are the Welcome Aboard posts for the verbal commits, and here is Heck's three-part series on why you should laugh, relax and panic when it comes to MSU football recruiting.

We'll have an overall class analysis on Friday.
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7:08 a.m.: Linebacker Shane Jones , Archbishop Moeller HS (Ohio) - (6-foot-1, 218 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (4 stars), Scout (4 stars), 24/7 (3 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Jones comes to East Lansing by way of Cincinnati Moeller, continuing the pipeline that produced Greg Jones, Marcus Rush and Monty Madaris. He picked MSU over a very impressive offer list that included Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. He could project to either the Star (Chris Norman/Taiwan Jones) or Sam (Denicos Allen) spot at linebacker. Jones led Moeller to the Division 1 state title in Ohio and was named The Associated Press Division 1 defensive player of the year. He racked up 130 tackles as a senior. His instincts are impressive and he gets to the ball quickly.

2013 projection: Jones has a bright future, but with the depth at both linebackers spots he could project to, a redshirt makes the most sense.

Highlights

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7:13 a.m.: Defensive tackle Devyn Salmon, Plant City HS (Fla.) - (6-foot-1, 285 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars) Scout (3 stars), 24.7 (2 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Salmon and Noah Jones are very similar players. Both show great burst and speed in getting off the line at the snap and getting into the backfield. They also share the same weakness: playing with a high pad level too often. Salmon does do a good job of using his hands and moves to get by the offensive lineman with a great amount of aggressiveness. He comes from a top program in Florida, Plant City, which produced current Spartan Denzel Drone. He had 29 tackles and five sacks as a senior.

2013 projection: Salmon is raw, just like Jones. Both need refined technique and time to mature as defensive tackles in the MSU system. A redshirt will serve him well.

Highlights
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7:30 a.m.: Running back Gerald Holmes, Flint Carman-Ainsworth HS - (6-foot-1, 205 pounds)

Rankings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 24/7 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Holmes is a beast in the backfield. MSU was diligent in their recruitment of Holmes, even after his went down in the first game of his junior year - which paid off when they secured his commitment. The comparisons to Le'Veon Bell aren't really fair, but based on the size and still being impressively shifty ... it makes sense. The difference between his speed on his junior tape and senior tape is incredible - he is much quicker. The vision also is there and Holmes follows his blocks well as they develop. The only question mark is his pass blocking. Holmes had 999 yards and 14 touchdowns on 92 carries as a senior (in a loaded backfield).

2013 projection: The running back spot is essentially wide open entering 2013. Given how MSU likes to have a pair of running backs that complement each other, Holmes is a viable option to pair up with Nick Tompkins, Jeremy Langford or Nick Hill. If Holmes can pass block effectively, he should see the field this fall.

Highlights

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7:34 a.m.: Defensive tackle Noah Jones, Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) - (6-foot-3, 277 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (2 stars), 24/7 (3 stars), ESPN (NR)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Jones was a similar find to Le'Veon Bell - a late add and offer to the class, as Bell was in 2010. Jones has a great burst and gets off the snap quickly. He makes a lot of plays in the backfield and holds his own in pass defense, too. Mark Dantonio got a gem in Jones, who drew a lot of interest from other schools quickly after his commitment to MSU.

2013 projection: Redshirt. Jones needs to improve his pad level and play lower consistently and use that leverage to his advantage.

Highlights
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7:37 a.m.: Kicker Michael Geiger, Toledo Ottawa Hills (Ohio) - (5-foot-9, 180 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (2 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: The No. 1 kicker in the nation according to Rivals is a welcome addition to the class. MSU struggled in the kicking game in 2012 and with Dan Conroy having graduated and Kevin Muma entering his senior year, Geiger will have the kicker spot for at least the majority of his career in East Lansing.

2013 projection: Muma hasn't been a field-goal kicker in his time at MSU, just a kickoff specialist. Muma and Geiger will compete for the starting spot in fall camp. If Geiger loses, expect a redshirt and four years to start after that.

Highlights

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7:39 a.m.: Defensive back Justin Williams, Treasure Coast (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) - (6-foot-1, 180 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247sports (2 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Williams' speed is what sets him apart. He has been clocked at 10.5 seconds in the 100-meter dash. This speed is what defines his game, both as a returner and defensive back. He has good cover skills and ball awareness, but his speed allows him to recover quickly on a bad read. He is one amazing athlete, that is clear, but somewhat unrefined as a football player at this point. He projects at either safety or cornerback.

2013 projection: As is the case with the other defensive backs in this class, Williams will likely redshirt as there isn't a great need at any of the spots in the secondary. If he proves that he is a top option as a kick returner, though, he could see time there.

Highlights
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7:41 a.m.: Wide receiver Jay Harris, Downingtown East HS (Pa.) - (5-foot-10, 175 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Harris is a very electric player when the ball gets in his hands - he scored in a variety of ways in his high school career, from special teams to reverses to receptions. He has great speed and gets good separation from defensive backs. With his size, the need to bulk up to be able to block is necessary and his route running needs some refining. His contributions will come one day in the form of a slot receiver and likely on special teams, too. Harris finished the season with 54 catches for 778 yards and 13 touchdowns.

2013 projection: Despite the lack of production from the wide receiver corps last year, MSU actually is deep at the position and adding more of the 2012 guys to the mix this year won't exactly open more doors. With the need to bulk up, Harris will redshirt.

Highlights

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8:01 a.m.: Linebacker Jon Reschke, Brother Rice (Birmingham), (6-foot-2, 225 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (4 stars), Scout (4 stars), 24/7 (4 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: The heir apparent to Max Bullough at the Mike linebacker position, Reschke led Brother Rice to back-to-back state titles in his final two years of high school. Simply put, the kid is a beast. He is incredibly smart on the field and is a gym rat and film addict - all the makings of a great player. He gets to the ball quickly and controls the defense. If this sounds familiar ... that is because these are the same things people talk about with Bullough. He plays well sideline-to-sideline and is relentless in his pursuit of the ball carrier.

2013 projection: Reschke will see a similar development as the player he will take over for. Bullough was a backup as a true freshman and saw snaps as well as time on special teams. Reschke should be brought up in a similar way to prepare him to start in 2014. He will play right away.

Highlights

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8:06 a.m.: Cornerback Darian Hicks, Solon HS (Ohio) - (6-foot, 175 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (4 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Hicks fits the mold of what MSU loves in its cornerback: Physical guys who tackle well and get good breaks on the ball. Hicks is more of a cover corner than a run stopper, but he is pretty well balanced. Hicks also has the potential to contribute on special teams, too. The best part of Hicks committing to MSU was he was a Plan A guy from the start for the Spartans - and they got their guy.

2013 projection: The need isn't there right away at cornerback, with Darqueze Dennard returning and plenty of candidate to take Johnny Adams' place. He will redshirt and have a chance to compete for a starting spot in 2014.

Highlights
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8:12 a.m.: Wide receiver Trey Kilgore, St. Xavier HS (Ohio) - (6-foot-2, 183 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: With Jay Harris and Kilgore, it is clear MSU wants to really inject its wide receiving corps with speed and shiftiness. Kilgore missed time with an injury in his senior season. He is a fluid wide receiver with good size and really good speed - a nice combination to say the least. Kilgore has the makings of a very nice complement to Aaron Burbridge down the road. He also spent time playing as a wildcat quarterback, at times, in his junior year. Kilgore finished his injury-shortened season with 12 catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns in four games.

2013 projection: While a redshirt seems likely, I might be higher on Kilgore than most are. He has an impressive skill set and all reports indicate he is working his tail off to be ready to contribute right away. Is that going to happen with the number of wide receivers already competing? Not likely. But, if he shows he can play and will make things happen, he just might see the field.

Highlights

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8:26 a.m.: Offensive tackle Dennis Finley, Cass Tech HS (Detroit) - (6-foot-6, 285 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (4 stars), 247 (4 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: The lone offensive lineman in the class - gulp - Finley was the MSU breakthrough at Cass Tech - YAY! He has the frame to hold more weight and the long arms to be an effective starting Big Ten tackle in the future. The size is there and so is the power necessary to excel. The best news? He is only going to get better and better as he has seemingly just realized how good he can be. As his strength and quickness improve, Finley should become a force. He has arguably the best offer list of any MSU commit, as he picked the Spartans over the likes of Ohio State and Wisconsin and a late Michigan offer.

2013 projection: Still raw and coming into his own, Finley has a bright future at MSU and will have a chance to compete for the two opening starting tackle spots in 2014. A redshirt in 2013 will give him the year to grow and mature at MSU before that chance to start.

Highlights
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8:30 a.m.: Defensive end Demetrius Cooper, Julian HS (Ill.) - (6-foot-5, 220 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Cooper has a huge upside as a very effective speed rusher and earned an offer after an impressive summer camp circuit. The staff has told him they envision him as a Will Gholston-type player - given his size - for them down the road, but he will need to bulk up. The Chicago teachers strike and a transfer rule hurt Cooper's senior season and he wound up playing just one game - racking up 14 tackles in that one game, though.

2013 projection: Having only played the one game his senior year, and missing most of his junior year with an injury, Cooper has some catching up to do. He also has to put on weight to contribute as a Big Ten defensive end. Redshirt.

Highlights
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8:38 a.m.: Running back R.J. Shelton, Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) - (5-foot-11, 187 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Intro

Breakdown: As Gerald Holmes is a power back, Shelton is a speed back. He has a great first step and once he gets by the defense, he is gone. Shelton has a great amount of shiftiness and shake to his game, allowing him to make people miss and often. Thought his level of competition isn't great, Shelton clearly is on another level from those on the field with him. He also is a great overall athlete, as an all-conference performer in basketball and baseball. He had 1,302 yards and 15 touchdowns on 149 carries as a senior.

2013 projection: Holmes is more likely to play right away than Shelton, but the speedster could breakthrough in fall camp and prove that he must see the field. I think he will redshirt and form a great pair with Holmes down the road.

Highlights

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9:00 a.m.: Tight end Dylan Chmura, Waukesha West HS (Wis.) - (6-foot-6, 225 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (2 stars), 247 (2 stars), ESPN (NR)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Chmura is the lone tight end in the class. He earned an offer after camping at MSU this summer and impressing - even after missing his junior season with an injury. Chmura has the athleticism and downfield playmaking ability to make things happen, but also is a solid blocker, by all reports. He also is the son of former Packer great Mark Chmura. He had 21 receptions for 430 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

2013 projection: The Spartans have to replace Dion Sims at tight end, and have a bevy of essentially unknowns at the position. Chmura likely will be given a chance to compete for playing time in fall camp, but ultimately should redshirt.

Highlights

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9:01 a.m.: Quarterback Damion Terry, Erie Cathedral Prep (Pa.) - 6-foot-4, 210 pounds

Ratings: Rivals (4 stars), Scout (4 stars), 24/7 (4 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Terry is arguably the best quarterback recruit MSU has brought in since Drew Stanton. The dual-threat passer racked up 3,599 yards passing and 50 touchdowns to just eight interceptions as a senior, while rushing for 695 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led his team to a 15-0 record and the Class AAA state title. Since committing to MSU in April, Terry has only climbed in the rankings and impressed with his play. He throws well on the run and with good accuracy, but needs to improve his arm strength. That is about the only area he is lacking. He makes good decisions with the ball and commands an offense well, while knowing when to pull the ball down and run.

2013 projection: There are inklings that Terry could see the field early in a two-quarterback system, but I don't fully buy it. He'll likely be competing for the starting spot in 2014.

Highlights

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9:01 a.m.: Athlete Delton Williams, Erie Cathedral Prep (Pa.) - (6-foot-2, 205 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (4 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Williams brings the greatest versatility of any of the commits in this class, and that is really saying something. I had to list him as an athlete because he could project to running back, wide receiver, linebacker or safety. As a senior, he ran for 697 yards and 13 touchdowns, caught 59 passes for 853 yards and 11 touchdowns. On defense, he had 65 tackles and four interceptions. On special teams he had three punt returns for scores. He can do it all and brings a lot to the table. He teamed with Damion Terry as a key cog in Erie Cathedral Prep's state championship season.

2013 projection: With so much versatility, Williams is the hardest to predict for next season. If he is viewed as the best contributor at running back, he could play right away. If not, he will redshirt. I believe his best role would be as an outside linebacker, and that should be where he ends up.

Highlights
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9:35 a.m.: Safety Jalyn Powell, Warren Harding (Ohio) - (6-foot-1, 195 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (4 stars)

Intro

Breakdown: Powell is a hard-hitting safety with a true nose for the ball. The thing that impresses you most about Powell is how quickly he gets to the ball carrier, but also how he consistently makes the tackle and delivers a solid hit. He also was a solid player on the offensive side of the ball at Harding, but his future is at safety. He is the cousin of former Spartan Chris L. Rucker.

2013 projection: Redshirt. With Isaiah Lewis back and R.J. Williamson and Kurtis Drummond also at safety, there is no pressing need to for Powell to play.

Highlights
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10:44 a.m.: Defensive tackle James Bodanis, University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada) - (6-foot-6, 300 pounds)

Ratings: Rivals (2 stars), Scout (3 stars), 247 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)

Welcome Aboard

Breakdown: Bodanis is a transfer defensive tackle who will have three years of eligibility remaining with two to play - meaning he has a redshirt remaining. It isn't certain yet whether or not he will be required to sit out a year as a transfer, though. He has the size and a good combination of moves to be a solid player on the defensive line in the green and white. The challenge will be his adaptation to not only a different level of play, but different rules.

2013 projection: Even if he doesn't have to sit out a year as a transfer, it makes sense that Bodanis will redshirt while adapting to a new style/game of football in the United States. He has the size to ultimately fill Tyler Hoover's shoes.

Highlights
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That is all 18 verbal commitments.

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